More than 50,000 people registered to get medical marijuana live in one of 29 rural counties that don’t have any medical marijuana dispensaries, according to data provided to CNHI by the Department of Health.
The department provided the information after being ordered to do so by the state Office of Open Records. The Department of Health initially refused to provide the data, saying it wouldn’t release the information in order to avoid violating patient privacy protections built into the state’s Medical Marijuana Law.
The Office of Open Records rejected the department’s arguments in July saying that aggregated data about the medical marijuana program wouldn’t violate any individual patient’s privacy.
“Finding the requested aggregated data to be confidential would lead to an absurd result. Under such a broad reading of confidentiality, information such as the total number of Pennsylvanians using the medical marijuana program would be confidential and disclosure of that figure could result in criminal sanctions. The OOR cannot conclude that this was the General Assembly’s intent,” Kyle Applegate, chief counsel for the Office of Open Records, wrote in the order directing the Department of Health to release the data.
Medical marijuana patients by county (PA)
|County||Number of medical marijuana patients||Population||Patients per 100,000 residents||Number of dispensaries|
In western Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, with 63,910 medical marijuana patients, has 10 dispensaries.
BY REGION The Department of Health divided the state into six regions for the purposes of overseeing the medical marijuana program
- In the Northwestern region, with 42,136 medical marijuana patients, six counties — Cameron, Clarion, Elk, Forest, Venango and Warren — don’t have any dispensaries.
- In the North-Central Region, with 27,206 medical marijuana patients, seven counties have no dispensaries..
- In the Northeastern Region, with 79,927 medical marijuana patients, five counties have no dispensaries — Carbon, Pike, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming.
- In the Southwestern Region, with 126,677 medical marijuana patients, only four counties — Armstrong, Greene, Indiana and Somerset — don’t have dispensaries. There are 25 dispensaries in the other seven counties.
- In the South-Central Region, with 89,557 medical marijuana patients, six counties — Bedford, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Mifflin and Perry counties — have no dispensaries.